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Shimla to get a facelift with funds from ADB

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Shimla, June 24 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday launched two restoration projects to beautify Shimla, once the summer capital of the British India.


"The government is committed to preserve the old heritage buildings in the state and every effort would be made to maintain the glory of such buildings," Singh said at the projects launching function.

The chief minister said the conservation and restoration of the Town Hall, built in 1908 with stone and timber, would be done aesthetically, keeping in mind its original Gothic style architecture. The Town Hall houses the Shimla Municipal Corporation.

The Town Hall, one of the 91 British-era buildings in this Himachal Pradesh capital, and the Mall Road are to get a facelift with Rs.30 crore. Of the total, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide half the amount as a loan.

The chief minister said all heritage buildings in the town would have inscription plates that will relate the history of that building.

The chief minister said the town would give a different and magnificent look during the night after illumination of the Gaiety Theatre, the Town Hall, the Scandal Point and the Christ Church.

As for the Mall Road, it is set for a facelift with the asphalt road surface being replaced with European-style cobblestone patterns, besides creating leisure plazas, official sources said.

The "Queen of Hills", Simla, as the town was then called, was the summer capital of the British colonial rulers.

More than 60 years after the British left, this town still attracts their descendants who are eager to explore their roots.

Sadly, the imperial grandeur of the buildings that were once institutions of power has slowly been fading.

Some of the monuments and buildings have been damaged by age or have been refurbished, while others have simply vanished.

However, there are some honourable exceptions: Ellerslie, housing the state secretariat; the Vidhan Sabha; Peterhoff, which was completely renovated after being devastated in a fire nearly two decades ago and now serves as the state guest house; the United Services Club; Barnes Court, which is Raj Bhavan; the Viceregal Lodge, which is home to Indian Institute of Advanced Study; Gordon Castle and, of course, the Gaiety Theatre.

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